How social sharing is driving SEO and ranking

Social sharing is becoming an increasingly important factor in helping your ranking positions. Search engines have been factoring social ‘signals’ into their algorithms for quite some time to help determine ranking, and reward relevant and popular content.

I know that many websites (Pinterest, for example) use ‘Rel=Nofollow‘ tags to stop ‘link authority’ passing back to your website from a linked image or content, but regardless (and crystal ball gazing), I’d say social signals and links will only gain more importance over time.

As each of the big social sharing websites have grown, they’ve supported ‘social sharing’ options. Facebook’s Open Graph ‘like’ button is probably the most common, but I’m sure you’ve also seen Pinterest, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google Plus buttons on web pages pretty much everywhere. In fact, they’re on this page, just below the heading of this article.

One of the ways to improve the relevance and traffic back to your website from content that’s been socially shared from your website is to introduce social sharing mark-ups (or schemas) in the source code of your website.

Sounds scary, but it’s quite straightforward and well worthwhile.

Here’s an example of social sharing from a website we SEO’d for a client earlier this year; it’s not perfect but will give you the idea:

chris_thomas_pic_171012

When you run your mouse over the buttons you’ll get a preview of what will be posted on Google+, Facebook and Twitter.

The digital agency who built the website did a great job at building in social mark-ups within the source code, which you could potentially replicate on your own website.

I’m going to get a little technical right now so please forgive me, but for those of you who are webmasters you’ll hopefully see the relationship between the structured mark-ups below and the previous screenshot from www.visitsunshinecoast.com.au.

What follows is an edited version of source code from the head section from the page. My comments are in blue:


<title>Self Contained Accommodation | Sunshine Coast </title>

<meta name=”description” content=”Accommodation | Resorts, Caravan Parks, Hotels, Motels, Houseboats, Holiday Houses & Camping. Everything you need to know about where to stay on the Sunshine Coast”>

<!– Facebook open graph meta tags –>

<meta property=”og:image” content=”http://www.visitsunshinecoast.com.au/images/facebook-og.jpg”> (This is the customer’s logo, set at 150px x 150px and shows up next to the post.)

<meta property=”og:title” content=”Self Contained Accommodation | Sunshine Coast “> (The title becomes anchor text to the page and if you like, can be taken from the Page Title Tag or you can specify something else.)

<meta property=”og:url” content=”https://www.visitsunshinecoast.com.au/accommodation/by-type/self-contained-apartments”> (This is the page URL address – recommend adding UTM Tags here.)

<meta property=”og:description” content=”Accommodation | Resorts, Caravan Parks, Hotels, Motels, Houseboats, Holiday Houses & Camping…”> (The description becomes description of the content – usually taken from the Meta but you can override here.)

<!– Recommended Google + meta tags –>

<meta itemprop=”name” content=”Self Contained Accommodation | Sunshine Coast “>

<meta itemprop=”description” content=”Accommodation | Resorts, Caravan Parks, Hotels, Motels, Houseboats, Holiday Houses & Camping. Everything you need to know about where to stay on the Sunshine Coast”> (The description becomes description of the content – usually taken from the <meta name=”description” content=” tag.)

<meta itemprop=”image” content=”http://www.visitsunshinecoast.com.au/images/facebook-og.jpg”> (This is the customer’s logo, set at 150px x 150px and shows up next to the post.)


For more information about Google+ schema mark-ups visit this link.

For more information about Facebook’s Open Graph schema mark-ups visit this link.

Probably my favourite article on the topic is from SEOMoz, which probably does a much better job at explaining this concept better than I ever could. There’s also a mark-up spreadsheet you can find here which is really useful at helping you also tracking the traffic back to your website from socially shared content by appending UTM tracking to the URL address for analytics. Something we should have done in hindsight!

The relationship between social and SEO is becoming ever more complex. Optimising your socially shared content is very good practice and might just give you the edge over competitors when it comes to your online sales.

Chris Thomas heads up Reseo, a search engine optimisation company which specialises in creating and maintaining Google AdWords campaigns and Search Engine Optimisation campaigns for a range of corporate clients.

 

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